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Errol Barrow daydreaming

Friday, January 24, 2014

Public holiday—called a “bank holiday” in Barbados, because that’s what it’s called in Big England, and Barbados, after almost half-a-century of independence, still prides itself on being Little England—and I’m at my desk. Anyone who does it, like the painters I can hear outside, knows that, “working for yourself” really means “working on weekends and public holidays.” So I’m working—but I’ve just been given pause at my keyboard by my telephone.

As it popped into my head, before I remembered it was a public holiday, I rang Immigration in Trinidad to make a passport renewal appointment and a very polite, well-trained woman answered the phone, making me jump, because, in the back of my mind, I expected an answering machine. But it’s not a public (nor even a bank) holiday in Trinidad. And I thought of these little islands that will surely all fall apart, one-by-firetrucking-one, because they will not come together as one.

The former leader of the Democratic Labour Party, Errol “Dipper” Barrow, was so loved by all Barbadians that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party found it easy to join with their political enemies and declare him a national hero, making his birthday a public (bank) holiday. Dipper did a great deal for a great number of people and was a great man, by anyone’s measure (apart, possibly, from the white Bajans of his time).